Dairy cow numbers set to rocket as industry booms
The number of dairy farmers will fall by more than 2,000 to 15,500 by 2018 but the national dairy herd will increase to 1,382,000 cows by the same year, according to Teagasc's latest dairy industry projections.
The dairy roadmap to 2018 foresees an increase in the average herd size to 89 cows, while the average milk delivered per farm will increase to 458,123kg.
Ireland's national milk production will increase to 7,101m tonnes in 2018, which would be an increase of 39pc above 2008 or 43pc above 2009 levels.
The majority of this increase in milk production above 2009 levels will be produced in the southern half of the country.
In tandem with the rising numbers of dairy cows and heifers, the area of land devoted to dairy production will increase in the coming years. Teagasc expects an increasing number of beef and tillage farms to convert to dairying in the coming years, particularly following the removal of milk quota regulations.
While the medium-term outlook for international dairy product prices is good, Teagasc warns that the risk of increased price volatility will remain.
To cope with this problem, dairy farm businesses will have to move towards controlling their future by adopting farming systems that are insulated from market price volatility and external cost exposures.